WALCOT, Charles (1738-99), of Walcot Hall, and subsequently Bitterley Court, Salop.
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Family and Education
bap. 22 Mar. 1738, 1st s. of John Walcot, M.P., by Mary, da. of Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Bt. educ. Westminster 1748-54; Magdalen, Oxf. 1756. m. 17 July 1764, his cos. Anne, da. of Rev. John Levett, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1765.
Sheriff, Salop 1782-3.
The Walcots were a very old Shropshire family with a considerable interest at Bishop’s Castle. But Walcot’s father dissipated the fortune, and by the time Walcot was of age the estate was heavily mortgaged. Sir Francis Dashwood, who took his Walcot nephews under his wing, wrote to Charles on 20 June 1761:1
The more I consider the bewildered state of your affairs, the more difficulties occur in judging and forming an opinion what to do. You talk of living with credit and satisfaction in Shropshire. A man of spirit would hate to go near the place. Is there any credit to saunter about home with a gun, and not have wherewithal to buy you clean linen? ... The net income of the whole estate will not pay the interest of the debt upon the whole estate, and your father proposes that you should allow him £100 a year. Where is this to arise? The answer is by sale of parts of the estate.
And next Dashwood seems to have advised him to ‘sell the whole estate’—‘I ... am very sorry I so long hesitated’, wrote Walcot to Dashwood, 26 July 1762,2 ‘... I am now quite convinced that it is ... the only way of clearing myself from the constant trouble ... from the creditors.’ By the autumn of 1762 he was negotiating with Lord Clive, to whom he sold the estate in 1763, with the promise of ‘all his interest’ at Bishop’s Castle,3 for the inflated price of £92,000; at that time Walcot’s debt to Child’s bank alone, not counting arrears of interest, amounted to £16,500.4
When in April 1763 Dashwood was summoned to the House of Lords as Lord Le Despenser, Walcot succeeded him at Weymouth on the Government interest. Yet in September, on a vacancy caused at Bishop’s Castle by the death of Francis Child, Walcot felt obliged to support George Clive against the Government candidate, Walter Waring: which, wrote Peregrine Cust to Walcot, ‘will be disapproved by all your family’.5 But Walcot had to stand by his promise, and was in return promised by Clive one seat at the next general election.6
In Parliament Walcot followed his uncle’s lead; adhered to the Grenville Administration; was classed by Rockingham in July 1765 as an opponent, and voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. He was classed as ‘Tory, Bute’ by Rockingham in November 1766, and as Tory by Newcastle, 2 Mar. 1767; and voted with Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767. There is no record of his having spoken in the House.
For the seat promised to Walcot by Clive at Bishop’s Castle, he first meant to put up his younger brother John. On 23 Aug. 1767 he wrote to Le Despenser7 that Clive meant him to be ‘at equal expense with himself, but that if I would release him from his promise he would give me £1,000’, which Walcot was inclined to accept and hoped his brother would excuse him. And on 6 Sept.: if he were to spend his whole fortune he could not keep up an interest independent of Clive; and Waring having started ‘a violent opposition ... no one can guess what the expense will be, which has determined me not to think of engaging in it’. The final decision was left to Le Despenser, who appointed John Walcot to a place in the Post Office incompatible with a seat in Parliament.
In December 1767 Le Despenser inquired if Charles ‘would like to come in again and would attend the business of the House’.8
I ... should be very glad to accept it [replied Walcot] if I could procure any preferment that would answer the difference of expense it will be to me to bring up my family to London; I would then give my attendance, and (except in particular questions) join in supporting any Administration you should think proper to be concerned in. I am only afraid of the expense, as my family is increasing; else should certainly prefer the honour of sitting in Parliament, to retiring into the country.
No such arrangement was apparently made, and Walcot does not seem to have stood again for Parliament.
He died September 1799.